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ECAC Hockey picks: Week 21

This is the toughest time of the year to make predictions, because so many teams are playing on emotion rather than simple talent. It’s the time of year where a bottom-dweller could easily upset a top-four team, if they simply want it more… so here come some pretty brutal predictions, because frankly, I have no freakin’ clue what’s going to go down this weekend.

This year

Record: 128-62-21 (.656)

It looks like my dream of a .667 season is over, but really, I pretty much got there anyhow: I have been right more than twice as often as I’ve been wrong, since I never pick ties… and you know what? That’s pretty awesome.

This week

All times Eastern

Friday, February 25

Colgate at Yale – 7:00

Some of you loyal Raiders fans (I’m looking at you, Shablak) may think that I’m not giving the ‘Gate the respect it deserves, especially in light of its recent hot streak (4-1-0). But really, of those four wins, all of them came against teams that were more than a couple places ahead of Colgate in the standings: Clarkson, RPI, and Dartmouth. Could I have picked Colgate over Harvard? Yeah, and obviously that would’ve been the right call. But just like the other three games, I would be crazy not to pick Yale. If the Raiders want to prove me wrong again, have at it – I have no problem with a little wackiness entering the playoffs. As such, 4-2 Bulldogs.

Quinnipiac at Union – 7:00

One of these teams is 0-3-2 in its last five outings. One of these teams is gunning for first place, and controls its own fate in that regard. (Hint: It’s not the same team.) 5-2 Dutchmen.

Princeton at Rensselaer – 7:00

Princeton rolled through a 14-3-1 run midway through the season, but has only won once since (1-4-1). RPI had a 14-3-2 stretch around the same time (in which a win against Princeton was the final W of the streak), but is 1-3-0 since. Odd… very odd. What’s even more gutting for the Engineers is that of those three recent losses, two were at home, after only sustaining a single home defeat in the previous 13 contests at the Houston Field House. The Tigers are 7-2-0 on the road this year, and while ‘Tute fans may disparage me for it, I’m picking this game as my big upset of the week: 3-2 Princeton.

Cornell at Brown – 7:00

As hot as Cornell has been lately (9-3-2), Brown has been equally cold (1-7-1). Funny how fortunes change as the year slips by. (Brown’s case isn’t helped whatsoever by the loss of top goal- and point-scorer Jack Maclellan, who may well be done for the year with sliced tendons in his foot.) 4-1 Big Red.

Clarkson at Harvard – 7:00

Just like that, Harvard – like Colgate – has gone on a little run to keep things interesting: At 3-1-1 in its last five, the Crimson has scored more goals (15) in five games than it has in any seven-game stretch all year. Clarkson, meanwhile, hasn’t manufactured consecutive points – much less wins – since 2010. The Golden Knights are 4-11-0 since the holiday break, and the adequate offense simply hasn’t been able to compensate for increasingly miserable defense. I never would’ve imagined saying it two weeks ago, but… I’m picking Harvard. 4-3 Crimson at home.

St. Lawrence at Dartmouth – 7:30

The Saints and Big Green are a bit funny, in that they’re so similar yet so opposite: St. Lawrence has only won consecutive league games once all year (a weekend home sweep of Cornell and Colgate), whereas the Big Green have only lost back-to-back ECAC games once this season (last weekend, at – ironically – Colgate and Cornell). The Saints have never really demonstrated positive consistency, whereas the Big Green have been nothing but. 4-2 Dartmouth.

Saturday, February 26

Princeton at Union – 7:00

This is one of those reeeeaaally difficult ones, because I don’t know how hard either team will be fighting for this one. If Union has first place locked up, I’d take bye-eyeing Princeton… but if the Tigers lose at RPI on Friday… well, you get the idea. I’ll play the season as a whole, and take Union, 3-2.

St. Lawrence at Harvard – 7:00

The way the Crimson has been playing (in case you hadn’t noticed, “Crimson” is a singularity, which is unusual among team names), I’d be a fool to take St. Lawrence. That said, Harvard hasn’t been playing this well for very long, so let’s see if they can stick with it. 3-2 Cantabs.

Quinnipiac at Rensselaer – 7:00

Even if the Engineers should lose Friday, they’ll likely still be in the mix for the final bye come Saturday. QU is merely playing to maintain its position, not improve it. I’ll take the slightly more driven home team, 4-2.

Colgate at Brown – 7:00

If Bruno loses these games, I may have to re-institute The Brown Rule… and what a shame that would be. Where-did-that-come-from-Colgate over Brown in Providence, 3-1.

Clarkson at Dartmouth – 7:00

‘Tech: Set for a first-round home series before the game even starts, is my bet. Dartmouth: Odds are good that a bye is all but clinched. So what are they playing for? Certainty. Big Green in an odd we-want-it-but-don’t-need-it kind of purgatory game, 3-2.

Cornell at Yale – 7:00

After Princeton at RPI, this might be the game of the weekend: Yale will still hope to have a shot at a third straight regular-season crown; Cornell will be looking to cement a first-round bye. It’s an Ivy League contest, senior night, with a potential title on the line, so Ingalls should be rolling like a humpback on the high seas. Bulldogs in a true playoff atmosphere, 5-3.

We’re not done yet!

Look for an update on potential playoff seedings on Friday night after the games, and be sure to follow me on Twitter for news that isn’t quite elaborate enough to warrant a blog post.

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  • Moskcraig

    If, as you predict, Dartmouth and Cornell win Friday, then RPI cannot still be in the mix for a bye if it loses on Friday. It will go into Saturday with 23 points, while CU and DC will have 26. What I want to know is, if CU and Princeton are tied in the standings after Saturday’s games, which team gets the bye?

    • burgie12

      It depends on how they get there. If it’s a tie for 3rd place with Cornell beating Brown and losing to Yale, then Princeton wins the tiebreaker. Pretty much any other tie between the two teams is going to go to the Big Red.

  • Uniondutch21

    If Union and Yale tie for 1st place obviously there will be a tiebreaker for #1 seed, but is the conference title “shared”?

    • Let’s go Q & Princeton

      If they tie the title is shared. The first tiebreaker for seedings is most wins. After that is gets messy based on how other teams do this weekend.

      • burgie12

        The first tiebreaker is actually head-to-head points. Since they split the season series, then, yes, most ECAC wins is the pseudo-first tiebreaker in this case. The next tiebreaker is Record vs Top 4 teams. In that case, Union wants to see Cornell stay in the Top 4 and would much rather see RPI than Dartmouth with a bye. Further, if UC beats Princeton on Saturday to get rid of Yale’s advantage from sweeping the Tigers, then Princeton would no longer be able to be a Top 4 team.

  • burgie12

    Don’t forget that multi-way tiebreakers are broken by separating the team that wins (or loses) from the pack and then re-starting the tiebreaker procedure! That’s why a Clarkson / Brown / Quinnipiac tie for 7th would give the Bears 8th place instead of the Bobcats. I’m looking forward to your post tonight with potential playoff seedings.

  • Sshablak

    LMAO You’ve been pretty good this year….WTH happened ?

  • http://www.findprefab.com Manufactured Home

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

  • Gatefan

    Please go back to picking against us. Thanks.

  • Keithjevt

    Have I got a deal for you UVM’s Snendon for Whitehead, Please!

    • Save UMaine Hockey

      You know, I think both programs could benefit from a trade like that.  I hate to say this, but both coaches have a high hockey IQ, but are uninspired in their current employment. 

      Maine could use a hardnose like Kevin Sneddon to slap some discipline into the players (just keep him on a tight leash and don’t give him an extended contract), Vermont could use a softie like Tim Whitehead to make them feel better about themselves (same rules should apply). 

      I think that would be a great trade.  Is it possible to trade coaches under contract?

      • Save UMaine Hockey

        Their salaries are also the same, so nobody would be losing any money.

  • Save The Bears

    I’d gladly put the effort forward to start a fund to replace Whitehead.  Is there real interest?

    • Save UMaine Hockey

      The word has gotten out.  I’m not sure if anything (concerning money) has been mobilized yet. 

      We may be in luck anyway.  Steve Abbot (athletic director) has really cracking the whip on UMaine coaches lately, notably firing the women’s basketball coach with a year left on her contract.  Maybe Whitehead’s uninspired coaching will have Abbot venturing the idea of sacrificing $340K for a better hockey team. 

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